Will Djokovic and Federer fold in US Open semi-finals again?
Rewind 12 months and the passage to the US Open final looked fairly straight forward for the top two seeds Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
Some surprises earlier in the competition meant that Djokovic was paired with number-10 seed Kei Nishikori in the semis, while Federer faced 14th seed Marin Cilic in the last four.
Nishikori may have beaten the likes of Stan Wawrinka en route, but was said to be struggling with a foot injury and had lost 3-0 in his only previous Grand Slam meeting with Djokovic.
The Japanese player ended up springing a surprise in the hot and humid conditions to triumph in four sets.
Another shock arrived in the other semi-final, with Cilic emerging victorious in straight sets for the loss of just 11 games. He had lost all five previous tussles with Federer
And overcoming another lengthy streak will be needed if Cilic is to spearhead a second upset double in the US Open semi-finals this year.
The Nishikori/Cilic win double would have rewarded value-hunting punters to the tune of 33/1 last year, although only £1 was placed on this outcome.
This time backing Cilic and Wawrinka to overcome underdog statuses in their semis is available at 25/1.
Rather than Federer, it is Djokovic that stands in Cilic’s way in 2015 and the Serbian world number one has prevailed in all 13 previous meetings, dropping only five sets in the process.
Much will hinge on how well Cilic has recovered from his five-set quarter-final success over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and whether his much-improved serve can pose enough trouble to the masterful defensive skills of Djokovic.
He is winning 82% of first-serve points at the US Open and Cilic will need to play to this sort of level to have a chance. Djokovic hasn’t been in sparkling hard-court form this summer either and doesn’t quite appear to be at his best.
Cilic is 11/2 to beat Djokovic for the first time.
It is a battle of the Swiss stars in the other semi, with Wawrinka bidding to improve on a run of two victories in his last 16 showdowns with Federer. He is 0-11 against the 17-time Slam winner on hard courts.
However, Wawrinka, who is bidding to reach a first US Open final, did win the most recent, which came in straight sets at the French Open earlier this year. It is worth noting that Wawrinka has been the better big-game player in the last two years, winning two Slams to Federer’s none.
The issue is that Federer is yet to drop a set in reaching this stage, only giving up four or more games in a third of the 15 sets he has participated in. Wawrinka is 12/5 to reach the final.
The double upset is hard to anticipate with Wawrinka never winning in 11 meetings with Federer on hard courts and Cilic failing to triumph in 13 matches with Djokovic on any surface. But as the 2014 US Open semi-finals show, anything is possible.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.